This year, my family and I participated in Christmas International House (CIH), a program designed to provide homes over the holidays for international students attending stateside universities. Colleges close over the holidays and many students cannot afford to go home. Through the Christian ministry of CIH, host families open their homes to these students, developing friendships, exchanging ideas, and cultivating peace with people from countries with different cultures.
So many people have asked me about the program that I thought I’d share a day-by-day review here on the blog. I hope that it will answer questions for anyone contemplating the program, and provide insight for me as to future participation. I welcome and encourage comments and questions from those seeking more information, or from anyone who has a similar story to tell.
After a day postponement due to an overbooked Greyhound bus, our student arrives. She looks much like the picture she sent ahead of arrival, only she’s tired after the very long ride from the University of Missouri. Friendly and pleasant, the family likes her immediately. Her English is good.
Our student, Ren Zhe, just barely has time to unpack and shower before we're off to the opening dinner for host families and students. Held at a church, the food was Japanese and very delicious. Families and students had the opportunity to meet and interact. We sang Christmas carols and Santa visited with a gift for each student. Then we broke into teams and had a Gingerbread House building contest. Ours didn’t win, but we sure had fun trying.
Ren Zhe is from China. I learned that there is no English equivalent to Zhe. It sounds something like Gya or Djyal (with the d and l very subtle). I don’t know if I’ll ever pronounce her name correctly.